Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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Surprise!

I was standing in my breakfast room, taking a picture of this red bellied woodpecker….

A modern art image, showing off his red belly.

….when this guy showed up. He’s a male evening grosbeak.

The yellow eyebrows helped me identify our visitor.

According to my Michigan bird book they aren’t supposed to be around here. They live in the northern lower peninsula and the UP of Michigan. But last winter at one of our local bird seed shops there was talk that people around here had seen them.

Such a striking bird, he was hungry and happy that there was seed on the railing.

I’ve only seen one, last winter, just one, and just one visit. But today our initial visitor came back later in the day along with some of his friends!

He brought a friend to the buffet!

First I saw two of them on the railing. And then I realized there were three, then four males, on the railing, in the trees…

A evening grosbeak party at the feeder!

…and on the feeder. Plus one of the birds on the feeder was a female! (over on the left above)

Num, num, num…

It was so cool. I’m thrilled that I got to see them, and even more thrilled that I got some shots.

I’ve been smiling all day.


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Change

Have I mentioned lately that change is hard?

My laptop went through an update. I don’t even know for sure who was doing the updating, and I certainly don’t know what was being updated.

Cardinal on a can

What I am certain of is that I didn’t request the update. It just happened.

So I’m finding, in the process of working on stuff, what has changed. Mostly, it seems, it’s in how pictures are being stored.

And where.

Crow with a snack.

I was feeling pretty cocky when I figured out how to find my images. It looks different, and it’s in a different place, but they’re all there. That was a relief.

But then I went to download images I took yesterday.

Buck looking for love.

WHOA. That process seems to be entirely different.

I don’t know how the images are being chosen to download and even scarier, I don’t know WHERE they are being saved.

Cardinal in a bath.

I used to be able to choose to download only the most recent images and I could pick which folder I wanted images to go into. Now there doesn’t seem to be a choice.

Since I can’t figure out where the images will go, even if I am successful in finding the download link, button or whatnot, I stopped.

Chickadee complaining about having to drink bath water.

I put the card back in the camera and I will do some research before I try again.

Female cardinal wondering what all the fuss is about.

Why do things have to be changed? Was there something wrong with the way we downloaded files before? Or is this some sort of job security for the people that design software?

Couldn’t there be some sort of warning and maybe even some instructions before they do these things?

Bluejay calling his mates to come and get something to eat.


And who is this ‘they’ that has such power anyway?

Darn.

Woodpecker reflecting on why dinner is not on his feeder. And staring at us inside to make sure we are aware of his discontent.

Change is hard.

(Meanwhile, enjoy some images I had already downloaded but never got around to using before today)


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Chasing windy weather

Last week the weather people started talking about a wind advisory for Saturday. Lots and lots of strong wind, they said and I wondered if there would be big waves over on Michigan’s west coast.

Heading out to surf Lake Michigan’s waves.

I wondered if it would be worth driving over there to see. It’s a long drive, between 3 and 4 hours, depending on where I go. Still…it was going to be warm, unlike other drives I’ve made to see storms roll in.

St. Joseph lighthouse, taken from a safe place with a long lens.

So about 10 a.m. I made a snap decision, grabbed my camera and jumped in the car. Even on the way I wasn’t sure exactly where I’d go…but construction on the roads made the decision for me.

People NOT in a safe place on the other breakwater.

I ended up at St. Joseph Michigan, where I’d never visited before. I knew there was a lighthouse out on the end of a cement breakwater, and I was hoping to see big waves crashing over it.

A beautiful place with dunes and a big sandy beach.

But what I found was very different.

The wind was coming from the southwest, and just south of the lighthouse pier was another breakwater, which did what it was supposed to do, and broke up the waves before they reached the lighthouse. So…in reality it was sort of boring, even though the wind was blowing very hard and just as I left the rain began to whip sideways.

And then it started to rain.

I figured the trip was something of a bust…and was going to head back home when I decided to just stop by Grand Haven on the way (even though it isn’t exactly on the way home. At all.) for a sort of drive-by look to see what the waves were doing there.

Of course there was a barn waiting to be noticed along my way.

Well. Even though I’ve been to Grand Haven before, seen waves crashing there before, I was thrilled to see it again. The red lighthouse against a changing sky is always photogenic.

My first glimpse on Saturday of the iconic lighthouse under dark skies.

When you add white capped green waves, well, it’s just stunning.

Lake Michigan’s green, almost tropically colored water froths around the brilliant red building.

I don’t know how many images I took…but it was a lot. Sometimes I was just holding the shutter down while trying to stay upright in the gusting wind.

Wind gusts changed the image, always something photogenic.

I actually turned around to go back to the car a couple times then turned back because it was so mesmerizing.

I was not alone out there on the beach!

I tried to find different angles, moving up and down the beach…running away from the water whenever a rogue wave slid up the sand overcoming where I’d just been standing.

Standing safe behind the rocks at the base of the breakwater.

The sun actually peeked out for a brief moment just as I was leaving, so of course I stayed. But the wind was getting stronger and I had plenty of images.

A bit of sunshine makes the lighthouse glow.

Luckily I was inside the car when a huge burst of wind began throwing sand around and people began running for their vehicles.

The dark clouds moved off to the east.

I smiled all the way home, even though I arrived long after dark.

Was it worth the drive?

Nice place to walk the dog.

Oh yea.


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The gift of moonlight

I went impromptu adventuring last weekend, chasing weather with my camera.

You’d expect to see some evidence of that here.

And you will.

But early this morning I was standing in my own yard, because I failed to plan a better location.

Shivering, feet and fingers cold for the first time this season, the moon seemed stubbornly slow to work through the phases of it’s eclipse.

But then the moon smiled at me, blushing pink, and I realized what a wonderful thing it is,

to be able to stand in my backyard on a cold morning, and watch the moon turn red.

And, suddenly, I wasn’t impatient any more.


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Foggy glow

It all started, as things often do, with an early morning appointment.

For years Katie-girl got me up extra early and while we were outside doing her business I’d usually witness beautiful but fleeting things. Geese or swans flying low with bellies glowing in the early light. Full moons dipping below the branches of our trees. A fox slipping silently through the woods. The flick of a deer’s white tail. Wisps of fog dancing on the pond.

But I haven’t been out in the early morning light lately.

Last week, once our 7:30 a.m. oil change was completed, my sister and I were driving home just as the sun was trying to break through the fog. It was beautiful, and we looked at each other and said….”Where can we go to get pictures of this?”

And…lucky for us we were only one exit away from one of my favorite parks, Holly Recreation, where Katie and I used to camp and wander the trails.

I felt a twinge of grief as I contemplated visiting one of her parks without her. But as we entered the park I realized the best place for pictures would be down near the lake and there was a parking lot Katie and I hardly ever used that would work perfectly for morning fog photos.

I felt relieved. I could be in the park, but not in Katie’s favorite part where I would feel her loss the most. Progress ,on this grief journey, is often made with tiny steps.

We parked and walked up and down that section of the road, taking pictures of the sun rising above the water, and the fog through the trees.

The reflections were gorgeous and we probably looked like crazy old ladies as we giggled and called back and forth to “come here and look at this!”

And when our fingers were frozen and our feet were soggy we climbed back into the car laughing as we cranked the heat up and scrolled through the images on our phones, each one better than the one before.

You can’t beat a good morning adventure – Katie taught me that over and over and over again. I like to think she was with us that morning, saying “I told you mama! You have to get out of bed early in the morning to catch the best stuff!”

I know, little girl, I know.


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You’ve seen it all before

I had a chance visit my favorite park this week, a late afternoon decision.

You’ve seen images like this before. I’ve taken hundreds of images just like these.

But of course I took the camera.

And of course there were birds — that was the point, is almost always the point when I walk these trails.

And luckily the birds were hungry.

Very, very hungry.

And of course we had a very good time. Because, really, how could we not?

I think the birds had a good time too.

For the most part anyway.

So I’m hoping you don’t mind seeing images like this again. Because I never tire of taking them.


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A little bit of everything

Here in Michigan you can expect a little bit of everything with October’s weather. Kind of like an everything bagel.

I know I say it every year, but this year the autumn colors were spectacular. Truly amazing.

And we had lots of sun.

And some snow.

Then more sun.

And a bit of snow. And rain.

It was warmer than normal.

And then really cold.

But the days when the sun shown and the wind died down were truly delightful.

I don’t think we can expect November to be nearly as entertaining.

Gosh, that everything bagel sounds pretty good right about now. Toasted. With cream cheese please.


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Walktober 2022, Chippewa Nature Center, Midland Michigan

Decades ago my grandma told me that time speeds up the older you get. Being the superior teenager that I was, I chalked the comment up to her being confused in her old age. (Which coincidentally was just about the age I am now.)

I stopped, early in the morning, on my way to Chippewa Nature Center, at Overlook Park just in case there were eagles. No eagles, but several bucks were having breakfast near the retention ponds at Dow.

Grandma, it turns out, was right.

And, as Robin says, here we are in October again. Another year is almost in the books and time is sliding by sideways while we aren’t paying any attention.

It was still quite early when I arrived, so I spent some time exploring a little pioneer farm display while I waited for the sun to come up.

Which I guess is why we need a Walktober, when you stop (which is the point) and think about it. Walktober is all about getting outside and noticing stuff.

A face only a mother could love.

Little stuff and big stuff, pretty stuff and interesting stuff. Stuff that makes you smile and stuff that stops you in your tracks and stuff that you’d never notice because you never slowed down enough to see.

The sun finally came up, trying to break through the clouds.

This year the coming of fall has been difficult for me. So I decided to do my Walktober in a place Katie and I had never visited together.

The morning light reflected in the schoolhouse window as I headed to the woods.

I have no memories of her at the Chippewa Nature Center, so there were no ghosts waiting to surprise me at every corner. She would have loved it there, trails through the woods always made her happy. But…no dogs allowed on the nature trails, so I carried her along with me in my heart instead.

Lots of color and shapes to focus on.

Even though Katie had never been here, I visited once, last February. During that trip the weather wasn’t cooperating and I couldn’t find the trailhead, and what I could find was covered in ice. I left after taking only one picture, and you all know that’s just about impossible for me to do.

This visit there was no ice on the trail, just a carpet of beautiful fallen leaves.

So I decided to try again, as a Walktober adventure and this time I definitely got more than one image, though once again the weather wasn’t cooperating.

A bit of fungus, a colorful leaf, against the backdrop of a decaying stump. Art in nature.

There was a mixture of bits of sun, lots of clouds, and, of course torrential rain combined with strong winds. Yep, a good day to wander in the woods.

A carpet worthy of attention.

I was specifically looking for warblers, those little birds that flit around, hiding behind leaves and high up in trees. They’re hard to catch a glimpse of, much less get an actual image. I might have seen one. Or two maybe, but the images were impossible.

Not a great image. And I don’t know what bird this is, with the little yellow dot near the eye.

Not enough light deep in the woods…not fast enough to bring the camera up when I saw something, not sure what I was even looking at.

Don’t know what this is either.

But it was fun trying.

Meanwhile the maple trees are stunning, and the trail, wandering beside the Chippewa River and through the woods was wide and easy walking. There was something pretty no matter where I looked.

Changed the lens to the wide angle for this beautiful spot.

And I can tell you one thing. The birds and animals knew I was in the woods way before I realized they were close.

Pay attention, lady, I’m standing right here!

I tried to take my own advice, learned from many other walks in the woods, to stand still and just wait quietly. I never see anything when I’m walking, even when I’m trying to be quiet.

We’ll let you get this one shot, and then we’re out of here!

I did see lots of birds when I stood quietly under the tall trees. The longer I stood there, the more emboldened the birds became, whizzing right by my head on a few occasions.

Good thing the leaves stood still for me.

I smiled, recognizing that I wasn’t going to get a great image, and relaxed, just enjoying their antics.

The little birds were flying circles around me.

At one point the sun poked out from the clouds and across a ravine I saw a field of red grass glowing. I know how fleeting light can be and there was no way for me to get over there in time, so I continued on with my meandering.

I love it when the sky is dark but some trees are still in the sun’s glow.

That turned out to be a fine decision because I ran into the most beautiful yellow tree while the sun was still shining, the trunk and limbs perfectly black against the gold.

The sun was just on the other side of this tree. For a moment anyway.

Eventually I found a track over to the field of red grasses and was focused on a beautiful tree along the trail when the sky went dark. And then I thought I heard rain coming from far away. But it was coming fast.

Such a pretty spot. Makes you want to linger and enjoy it….unless……is that rain I hear coming my way?

Torrential rain hit as I popped out into the field and assessed how far away the car was, realizing it was too late and too far to sprint. I was going to get wet.

Even the turkeys were heading for cover.

And I did. But that was OK too, the colors just intensified and I smiled as I wiped my glasses and increased my pace through the field.

I need to get way over there.

By the time I got to the car, mopped up a bit and decided to head home, the sun came back out. Of course it did.

I could go explore more trails…but I was soaked all the way through.

And on the way home the clouds were so good I just had to pull off the freeway and grab a shot or two or twelve. There might have been barns involved, but that would be content for another post.

Who could resist this scene?

Thank you Robin, for hosting Walktober again this year. I look forward to it every year, thinking about new places to explore, deciding when to schedule the walk, hoping for great color or at least some interesting new images.

Good advice on a stone at the exit.

I feel kind of sad that it’s finished, but then I remember….I get to go along with all of you on your Walktobers, and I can’t wait to see where you’re taking us this year!

My artsy-fartsy image from my Walktober at Chippewa Nature Center, October 13th, 2022.